Magazine article Management Today

Ask Bill Gates

Magazine article Management Today

Ask Bill Gates

Article excerpt

Q. How do I know if a project is good and, if so, how do I then keep it on track?

A. There are no magic formulas, but I do have a few tips for choosing and managing projects.

1. Choose carefully and only work on something large enough to be worthwhile and for which your basic skills qualify you to succeed. Establish a realistic timeline, but not too long as, after a couple of years, it's pretty tough to maintain a project's freshness and responsiveness.

2. Keep the customer scenario in mind always. How will the customer use your work? Why will it be better than what they had before? Will it work better than before?

3. Let employees know its importance. This builds enthusiasm, a sense of teamwork and it helps people draw on the best of what they have to offer and on the strengths of others.

4. Keep employees informed and involved so they understand its constraints. How quickly does it need to get done? What are the financial limitations? It's natural for people to have different primary concerns as everyone brings individual expertise to a project. But there should be a common sense of progress being made and where the difficult areas are.

5. Meet across boundaries. In well-managed projects, meetings should involve people from different disciplines and organisations within a company. But they needn't all be in person -- e-mail makes it easy for managers to keep everybody involved and to provide status reports. Really good managers pick a metric, such as a specific comparison to a competitive product, and go overboard updating their people on how the project is measuring up. …

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